I ask because you are sending out some very contradictory messages over the European Union. Firstly, you say that you voted to leave the EEC (the EU’s forerunner) in 1975. You also voted against the Maastricht Treaty, saying:
“The Maastricht treaty… takes away from national Parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community.”
In the hustings to become Labour leader, you claimed that you “wouldn’t rule out” campaigning to leave the EU, citing many concerns about the European Union.
But in your recent reshuffle, you made Pat Glass MP your new shadow Europe minister – the MP who founded the Pro-EU ‘Labour Yes’ group and has links to the Europhile British Influence pressure group.
What makes your position even stranger is that writing in the Morning Star newspaper in 2014, you wrote of your concerns about the EU’s planned TTIP deal with the US – citing your concerns that it could negatively impact the NHS and stating that:
“The EU is continuing to pursue its central goal of being a place where big business has free rein to operate.”
In the same newspaper only last month, you are quoted as saying that you are “quite prepared” to defy EU competition law to nationalise Britain’s steel industry – clearly stating that:
“I’m quite prepared to challenge EU competition law and EU directives on public ownership and on state funding. Other governments in Europe challenge it, it’s kind of weird that the British government doesn’t.”
You have also criticised the EU for its economic ruthlessness. In an interview for the New Statesman you talked about the “sheer brutality of the way they’ve treated Greece”.
So let’s get this straight – you voted against membership of the EEC, voted against Maastricht which created the EU as we know it, opposed the Lisbon treaty are concerned about the EU’s TTIP deal and are highly critical of how the EU operates, but you now want us to stay in?
Maybe you are really a sceptic but believe that somehow when you are in charge you will be able to reinvent the EU from within – good luck with that, but as British Prime Ministers and officials have discovered for 40 years, the EU has no intention of deviating from its present course.
Perhaps you have come under pressure from Europhiles in your own party to change your tune over European Union issues. But if this is the case, you have forgotten that the purpose of a party leader is to lead – if you genuinely are Eurosceptic, make it clear now; once and for all. Because otherwise, it looks like you are just another politician who is Eurosceptic out of power, Europhile when in a position of authority.
Not so much “New Politics” but “Same Old Politics!